Thursday, 29 October 2009

Defending Genocide (Part III) - What about the Children?


So, what about the children? When the Israelites went a-slaughterin', they also killed all the children. What does our apologist have to say?
Small children did not share the guilt of their parents.

No, but god had them share the same fate anyway.
The Bible describes small children as not knowing right from wrong (Is 7:15-16) [ed. note, this passage is a reference to Immanuel, not children in general], and in some cases, this meant that they were spared the earthly punishment their elders received.

Which is pure conjecture. There's nothing about an age of accountability in the Bible.
The Bible also clearly teaches that one person is not held guilty for another's sin (Ezek 18). Therefore, the children who were killed would not face the same punishment in the afterlife as their parents.

O Rly?

Tell that to all the descendants of Adam and Eve (all of us) who are held as sinful by nature because of their actions. And, let's not forget Ex. 20:5 and 34:7, Deut. 5:9, 23:2, and 28:18, Num. 14:18, 1 Sam. 3:12-13, 2 Sam. 12:14-15, etc.
Why were the children killed, if they weren't guilty? Apparently, they were considered as morally neutral, since they weren't yet old enough to be held accountable or to have done much right or wrong. While not as corrupt as their parents, they were part of the society that was judged, and shared its earthly (though not its eternal) fate.

Again, there's no support for an age of accountability in the Bible.
Couldn't the children have died painlessly?

One would think so...I'm betting the answer from our "loving" god is, "No."
Why didn't God translate the children into heaven instead of having them die by the sword? Since the children lived in a world affected by sin, they faced its earthly consequences (Rom 5:12-14).

And, here is where we blame the victims. The Earthly consequences that the children had to face (brutal death) were imposed by god himself. So, the argument here is that god was fine in doing this because he set up the world to require this brutal death and then carried it out. And, somehow it's the humans caught in his sadism that are to blame?
Only a few righteous people were translated into heaven, namely Enoch (Gen 5:24, Heb 11:5) and Elijah (2 Ki 2:11). As noted above, since the children had not shown themselves to be righteous, they were not spared the common fate of death.

Sorry to all the newborns, but you haven't acted like a saint yet. Oh, so sorry.
It's worth noting that being killed with a sword (perhaps beheaded) was at the time one of the quickest ways for the children to die (as opposed to suffocation/strangulation, starvation, disease or being torn apart by wild animals - see Ex 23:28-29).

Oh, so that makes it OK?

And, this raises quite a few problems. If killing children is good because they get to go to heaven, then why is abortion or infanticide considered bad? Why would the author claim that god was enraged at child sacrifice if it sent those children to heaven? Why would god be enraged by them killing children if he was going to kill them anyway (possible answer is that he was mad that the humans killed the children before he had a chance to).

And, how is that fair, equitable, or just to kill children before they have a chance to sin? For all of us who have grown beyond the age of accountability, we all have sinned and now need salvation. Children that die early get to go straight to heaven without the chance of sinning and ending up eternally tormented in hell.

Finally, does this excuse god's actions? Either it does, but then god is convicted on other accounts (unfairly sending others to hell) or it does not. I actually lean to the latter, because he still ordered the Israelis to put children to the sword. He couldn't do it himself, no he had to have others do his dirty work, using pain and violence when he could have snapped his fingers and avoided pain, evil, and violence. god is still not absolved of his crimes against humanity.

Other posts in this series...

36 comments:

Tyler said...

"It's worth noting that being killed with a sword (perhaps beheaded) was at the time one of the quickest ways for the children to die, mkay?

"That's all for your bible lesson tonight," she said as she tucked little Johnny in.

"Sleep tight. Mommy loves you."

Modusoperandi said...

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing. (emphasis mine) from William Lane Craig, Theologian (*1) and Master of Apologetics (*2), defending genocide. He then turns to bashing Islam, who believe in a god that loves only Muslims, apparently, while the Christian one even loves those who were in the way of the Chosen (*3) and loves those that don't believe in Him, this time as Jesus, so much that He's gonna burn them alive in unspeakable agony for all eternity for the simple crime of being what He made them knowing they'd be (*4).
You see, Divine Command Theory only covers the god you believe in (while impaling it on one of Euthyphro's horns). The other guy's god is obviously made up, so their butchery, either by them or commanded by them or their prophets, gets no protection. Obviously.
...
It's moot, anyway. They weren't killed because they were "bad". They were killed because they were "in the way". When "they" do it, it's a massacre. When "we" do it, it's war. (Yes, the Aztecs pulled peoples' hearts out, but it in no way excuses the actions of the Conquistadors, who I'm told worked for the same God as the Israelites. Yes, numerous American tribes tortured captured soldiers, but it doesn't justify the Trail of Tears and many like it, yadda yadda yadda)
History is conveniently written by the victors, while the history of the vanquished is relegated to the funeral pyres, so "their" bad deeds are magnified and "our" bad ones are whitewashed, in this case by a thick coat of "God wanted me to!".

*1) Theology: The science where you're always right.
*2) Apologetics: The fine art of turning all possible outcomes of an argument into victory.
*3) And on the way, he says that our revulsion at this genocide proves that objective moral values exist...which proves that He exists.
So, no matter what, God is and is all-good, and if you think He's not, sometimes, how dare you question His actions/commands with your Fallen "objective morals"... (see notes 1 & 2)
*4) As I've said before, a poor workman blames His tools. A 3-O'd, all-good, omni-benevolent one that does so requires redefining most of those terms.

Anonymous said...

God is not omni-benevolent. This belief is the invention of the atheist.

Anonymous said...

Fact: Many Cherokee's on the "Trail of Tears" were born again Christians.

Tyler said...

Anon: God is not omni-benevolent. This belief is the invention of the atheist.

http://biblestudies.suite101.com/article.cfm/god_loves_you

:chortle:

Man, your stupidity really knows no bounds, does it, boy.

Tyler said...

Anon: Fact: Many Cherokee's on the "Trail of Tears" were born again Christians.

Wtf?

The Rambling Taoist said...

If killing children is good because they get to go to heaven, then why is abortion or infanticide considered bad?

Superb point!! Since Christians have a penchant for telling us that God can work his "magic" through anybody -- even those of us who don't believe in him -- the pro-choice movement should change their strategy to simply state that they are carrying out God's will.

Leo said...

Love and benevolence are not synonyms, "boy." Yes, God loves all.

Tyler said...

Love and benevolence are not synonyms, "boy."

No? Hmph...

"Concept Thesaurus
Concept: Benevolence.

Synonyms: Christian charity; God's love, God's grace;"



Leo: Yes, God loves all.

"The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity."

"And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness."

"These six things doth the LORD hate... A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."

God hates you, Leo, for speakething the lie that god loves all.


Yeah, so much for "I didn't come here to argue, and rather to suggest Tracy move on as well," huh. Can't even manage to take your own advice, can you, boy.

Leo said...

Alright Foghorn Leghorn ("I tell ya boy, I tell ya!"), good point. I am out.

Tyler said...

:shrugs: If you want to run away from rigorous challenges to your silly beliefs, that's on you.

Tracy said...

This whole concept is one you've brought up before GCT, and I can see why you feel the way you do.

I find it difficult to agree with William Lane Craig, although I see his point in terms of eternal destiny. None the less, those women and children suffered fear and pain.

As I've mentioned before there are some things I do not understand that God said and did. My response is simply to acknowledge that and not try to make it OK.

On my own site I've mentioned this quote from a site entitled The internet monk that I really appreciate:

"I deeply disagree with those who say we should not speak of faith until we have answers. It shouldn’t take a lot of consideration to understand the answer may be “there’s no answer for this question.” If I have to go beyond that, I’m going at the expense of my integrity. Nothing good comes of that.”

So, as typical, my response is that I do not know, or understand all, but I still choose to follow Jesus.

I still believe that it's about faith and that if we but choose to take one step toward God, that He will then give us the faith to be able to believe in Him.

GCT said...

Tracy,
I'm glad that you can simply say that you don't know (as in it's a step in the right direction from many Xians, although I would like it better if you denounced the barbarity and evil, but baby steps...) but shouldn't that also extend to the question of god's goodness? If you can't know about god's goodness in regards to the wholesale slaughter of others, you certainly can't say that god is good.

Tracy said...

Had to laugh when I read your response! Have to be somewhat endeared by your desire that I stop my "senseless" ways - because I think, in your case, it comes from a good place.

I've no doubt in my mind with regard to God's goodness. The entire gospel, for me, shouts His goodness. God chose to shed His Deity and come to earth as a human; to have his diapers (or whatever system they used in that culture) changed by a human; to take on our limitations, to be separated from God - for me. He gives me His grace and favor when I deserve eternal damnation. God is good.

I recognize that, for you, this is just religious rhetoric. That the whole concept of eternal damnation shouts to you that, if you even thought this God exists, He would be not good at all.

I see it as reality. The reality is that God is holy and perfect and humans aren't. But He cared enough about our condition to provide a way to Himself.

GCT said...

Tracy,
Do you not see the inherent difficulty with your position?

You claim that god is good. When I point out that god is guilty of genocide (which I think we both agree is not a good thing to do) you claim that you don't know why god would do such a thing.

If you don't know why god would do such a thing, then you can't very well claim to know that god is good, because by your own admission, you don't know if god committed genocide for good reasons. Feel free to restate your case, but as it stands now, you're putting the cart before the horse. If the jury is out on whether god was good or not in ordering the wholesale slaughter of a group of people, then the jury is necessarily also out on whether god is good or not, regardless of any personal sacrifices that he may have made for a select group of people.

ethinethin said...

Tracy...
"He gives me His grace and favor when I deserve eternal damnation. God is good."

But why do you think you deserve eternal damnation? Do you deserve eternal damnation just because you were born a human? That doesn't make sense.

If god is good, why would he create a system where people are born worthy of punishment (just for being born)? Wouldn't he find a better and more efficient way (such as completely eliminating the need for grace/salvation) than the current system (where, by current estimates, over 60% of people living today will be doomed to eternal torment)?

Or is he only so good? As in, yeah, god is good but he's not that good.

Anonymous said...

The only reason to continue the "original sin" part of the discussion is if you think there is anyone who has lived a sinless life otherwise?

Tracy said...

The discussion is frequently stimulating here.

OK, GCT- For example's sake: If I had a friend who I really like and know is good, but you told me some true stuff that he did that that was bad, I would still like and think that friend was good because I know him. The issue is in relationship - I know the friend and nothing I could find out about him would change what I know. A lady named Rcube who frequently posts on my site reminded me today of a scripture from Psalm 34:8 that starts out saying - "Taste and see that the Lord is good". I have "tasted", or experienced, God's goodness in my life.

Now, my analogy fails because people are not perfect; so maybe my really good person friend just messed up. God doesn't mess up; but I am limited in my understanding. I can live with the fact that I can not understand God. In fact, why would I want a God who I could understand. God's ways are not my ways; He created the universe and I can not manipulate or control Him or have Him do things to fit my ideas, I must come to Him on His terms.

ethinethin - The point is that God is Holy and Perfect and He can not be in the same space, so to speak, as sin. If you read in Genesis, when God first created humanity, they were without sin but they were with free will to choose to love and obey God or to disobey. When they chose disobedience, sin entered into the human race and we are all born with what Anon was talking about when he mentioned as original sin. However, if we are all honest, we recognize that we're not perfect. We recognize that at best, sometimes we are selfish and not wholly giving or that we are demanding and self indulgent or whatever else.

Sure, God could have created a different "system" and originally created people without will. There are a lot of ramifications to this but I know, I am glad I have free will. I mean, the quickest way to make me not want something is to say I have to have it; the quickest way to make me want something is to say I can not have it - I don't see me unique in this at all - most people are like that. Of course, this could just be because we do have free will, so of course we want it. But of what value is love is the one who loves you has no choice. Choice is risky because one can make the wrong choice (as the mom of 3 sons-ages 21, almost 17 & 15, I really get this!), but choice makes it all so much more meaningful.

I want to add something that doesn't exactly fit here but it's relevant:

God is so good that He will love and forgive anyone who chooses to come to Him and follow Him. In another post discussion someone brought up the example of some really terrible person like Hitler; Christianity would teach that after all the evil he did, if he repented on his deathbed, he would spend eternity in the presence of God. Many find that offensive-the good news is just too good; people want to think that if there's a heaven we get their based on all the good stuff we've done. The problem is that when you compare all the good we could possibly do with the perfection of God, we still come up short.

ethinethin said...

However, if we are all honest, we recognize that we're not perfect. We recognize that at best, sometimes we are selfish and not wholly giving or that we are demanding and self indulgent or whatever else.

That's just part of being human. It doesn't mean we're worthy of infinite punishment and contempt.

"Perfection", when it comes to something as complex as a human being, is a very subjective term. Our behavior, ideals, and ethics are all influenced by our culture, so any definition of a "perfect human" would vary from culture to culture.

As a biologist, I recognize that biologically, we are far from perfect, although that too would be subjective; what would be biological perfection?

100% effective use of energy by all cells? You'd have to change the laws of thermodynamics to achieve that (FYI, human cells are lower than 40% efficient when it comes to utilizing energy).

How about perfect vision? Well, eyes capable of 20/20 vision with no degradation would be a good start (once you got rid of the blind spot), but would that be perfect? How about eyes capable of seeing the entire spectrum of light, distances as far as the horizon, and objects as small as 1 micron (that would be wonderful for me, to be able to observe a cell in full three-dimensional glory rather than through a light microscope or ESM).

We're so far from biologically perfect, you might wonder how we ever managed to stand upright in the first place (although the radiator theory has a good idea of why we did). Does that mean we're worthy of the wrath and ire of the infinitely "good" being who "designed" us this way, the guy who "knew the beginning from the end"?

Talk like this is what turned me away from christianity. If there is a god and he created everything we know, he obviously gave us the capacity for logic and reason. And christianity simply can't be reconciled with either.

ethinethin said...

And speaking of ethnocentrism..
I have "tasted", or experienced, God's goodness in my life.

So have muslims (albeit, Allah's goodness), and buddhists have "felt complete peace with all things". Scientologists know that auditing works, and wyccans feel most empowered by their gods when they're debating before a ritual or dancing after a debate. No doubt, aztec priests would feel similarly when steeped in the blood of their victims, or in their own blood after an impressive bloodletting.

None of these people lack the faith that they are right and you are wrong, just as you feel about them. Some would even say that you are possessed by a devil, demon, or false gods who have tricked you into believing what you believe (just as you might say of them).

The ultimate question is, then, how am I (an agnostic atheist) supposed to choose a religion, when they all say the same things about themselves and others? Why do none of them have evidence for their truth, besides personal testimony and professions of faith?

To me, your religion doesn't "seem right" or "feel right". It seems as wrong as all the other religions I've encountered (especially the whole christian/conservative war on science). I am open to hear the evidence, but christians like Leo say my "heart is hardened", when his (and your) heart is hardened to the possibility of other religions being right, and him being misled by a demon (see how ridiculous that sounds? that's how ridiculous it sounds when you say my heart is hardened).

The truth is, there is no evidence for any religion to be right. You have to believe in it before you can believe in it. And people of all religions believe in it before they believe in it, due to cultural influence and norms. After all, your parents taught it to you, and how could the people who taught you to speak be wrong?

Tyler said...

Tracy: ... I deserve eternal damnation.

No one deserves eternal damnation.

Tracy said...

ethinethin , I think you've made the same point that Leo and I have been saying - religion at it's essence is about faith. To try to discuss it minus faith will not work. It is certainly your choice to say you can not believe because there is not evidence to choose Christianity.

ethinethin said...

It's about faith -- and culture. If you were born in egypt, you'd probably be a muslim. If you were born in china, you'd probably be a buddhist (or practice some form of ancestor worship). You'd have just as much faith that you were right, but it'd be in different things.

GCT said...

Tracy,
"OK, GCT- For example's sake: If I had a friend who I really like and know is good, but you told me some true stuff that he did that that was bad, I would still like and think that friend was good because I know him."

Really? If that person turned out to be a serial killer, would you feel the same way? You've known "Bob" for some years, let's say, and he's always nice to you. Then, one day you go into his basement and find the dessicated remains of all the people he has slaughtered. He finds you down there and admits that he's slaughtered all kinds of people because he enjoys the look of fear that he causes, he enjoys the pain that he causes, etc. Would you say, "Well, Bob, you've always been nice to me, so even though I can't explain why you're a sadistic, psychopathic multiple murderer, I still think you're a great guy?" Personally, I would take in this bit of evidence and re-assess the situation.

"God doesn't mess up; but I am limited in my understanding. I can live with the fact that I can not understand God. In fact, why would I want a God who I could understand. God's ways are not my ways; He created the universe and I can not manipulate or control Him or have Him do things to fit my ideas, I must come to Him on His terms."

Let me refer you to a previous post of mine where I discuss what you are doing. Boiled down, you're trying to have it both ways. You want to claim that god is good, but wave away any evil as that which you can't understand.

"Sure, God could have created a different "system" and originally created people without will."

This is a false dichotomy. There's no reason why the system has to be set up whereby we want to choose to do evil, or where our evil acts/choices negatively affect other people. Why was the system set up so that the choice of Adam and Eve would negatively affect all of us? Is that fair, equitable, or just?

It's all moot anyway. If the Xian god is omni-max, then free will can not be a part of this universe.

"Many find that offensive-the good news is just too good; people want to think that if there's a heaven we get their based on all the good stuff we've done."

I find that offensive, but not because the "good news is just too good," or because I want to see people like Hitler suffer in hell - I don't want to see anyone suffer in hell. I find it offensive because it's not just, it's very ethnocentric (as Ethin points out), and it isn't based on actual morality but rather on factual belief (i.e. the ability to believe the correct thing). None of these things paints a picture of a "good" god. I don't find god to be "good" because he's willing to arbitrarily hand out rewards to some people based on cryptic beliefs, while willing to torture good people in hell for eternity for simply doing the equivalent of failing a math test.

Tyler said...

Tracy: God doesn't mess up;

Really? He sure does repent an awful lot for someone who doesn't mess up.


Tracy: ... but I am limited in my understanding. I can live with the fact that I can not understand God.

Wait... what? If you can't understand god, how do you figure god doesn't mess up?

Tracy said...

GCT, I did figure that you'd make that suggestion, about a friend doing something super horrific, when I gave that example. But I was trying to make the point about relationship and experience.

I recognize that you see Christianity as boiling down to someone choosing the believe the "right things", like the correct answers for a math test; and that this correct belief gets you into heaven vrs hell.

I'm not able to explain it any way other than I've already done; besides which, you've obviously already studied plenty.

I can see most of the points you make, but do not draw the same conclusions. I think that, for me this is one of those times I choose to respectfully disagree.

GCT said...

Tracy,
I understand that you disagree, but I don't see how you can. Logically speaking, you can't play both sides of the fence, which is what I've pointed out. So, either you have to be thinking illogically or you have to have some reason that I don't know about for your beliefs that god is good.

Having a "relationship" isn't good enough. If I can paraphrase a quote I've heard (can't remember who said it), "Someone who is good to you but not good to the waiters at restaurants is not a good person." Similarly with the serial killer (and that's not really hyperbole since god would be a serial killer due to the genocidal acts described in the Bible), god may be nice to you personally, but that doesn't make him good.

"I recognize that you see Christianity as boiling down to someone choosing the believe the "right things", like the correct answers for a math test; and that this correct belief gets you into heaven vrs hell."

Actually, that's how a lot of Xians describe Xianity. A standard argument is that hell is not evil because we are choosing it (i.e. one "chooses" heaven or hell based on the beliefs that one "chooses" to have). If you feel differently, please feel free to elaborate.

Paul said...

Who are we to judge God? He needs not that we judge Him to be good, evil, or indifferent. He is God and does not need us at all. His reason for creation I do not know, but it was not because he needed us in any way. To judge him good or bad is to say, "I, God, am equal to you, or above you, that I might be qualified to judge you." God cares not our judgement, because he inherently is good. Without God, there IS no good. He is the very embodiment of good. It would be crime to say he is an "example" of good, because an example means a comparison, and the gold standard of good, the very first, last, and every definition of good, is GOD.

Tyler said...

Tracy: I think that, for me this is one of those times I choose to respectfully disagree.

:chortle:

You can't exactly respectfully disagree when you're standing there promoting and defending an extremely disrespectful ideology like christianity.

Tyler said...

Paul: Who are we to judge God?

I give up... who?

Paul: He needs not that we judge Him to be good, evil, or indifferent. He is God and does not need us at all. His reason for creation I do not know, but it was not because he needed us in any way.

For someone thinks we're not worthy to judge god, you sure do judge god an awful lot.

Paul: To judge him good or bad is to say, "I, God, am equal to you, or above you, that I might be qualified to judge you." God cares not our judgement, because he inherently is good.

So, when you judge god to be inherently good, you're saying you're equal to and qualified to judge god.

Or, you don't even see it, do you...

Paul: Without God, there IS no good. He is the very embodiment of good. It would be crime to say he is an "example" of good, because an example means a comparison, and the gold standard of good, the very first, last, and every definition of good, is GOD.

The question is: can god cook a steak better than I can? If not, what good is he...

Paul said...

You miss it altogether. God IS Good. Not as in God has the attribute of goodness, but rather God is what goodness is. Saying "Is God good?" is the equivalent of saying "Is good good?" or "Is Tyler Tyler?"

Modusoperandi said...

I believe that still sticks you on a horn of "The Dilemma", Paul.
Is it God's nature because it's good, or is it good because it's God's nature?
Dun dun dun!

And as for "You miss it altogether", you seem to have missed the entire subject of this page (and a bunch of other pages here and elsewhere).

Paul said...

I am not saying good is God's nature. I'm saying God is the embodiment of goodness.

GCT said...

Paul,
"To judge him good or bad is to say, "I, God, am equal to you, or above you, that I might be qualified to judge you." God cares not our judgement, because he inherently is good."

This is a contradiction.

You are using a tautology that is completely useless to us. Instead of saying that god is good, you may as well be saying god is hungtproglbme for all the good it does us (no pun intended). Unfortunately, you are also conflating words when you use the word "good" which is misleading.

Modusoperandi said...

Paul I am not saying good is God's nature. I'm saying God is the embodiment of goodness."
"I'm not saying that these pants tan. I'm saying that they are khaki."

...also, read the subject of this page. It's a casual disproof to your hypotheses.

Tyler said...

Paul: You miss it altogether.

There's some fuckin' irony for ya. :snort:

Paul: God IS Good.

So, jealousy, vindictiveness, petulance, genocidal rage, misogyny... those are all good things.

It's interesting that you judge your god to be good in light of those attributes. Why, you make being bad sound downright... good.